Men's Basketball: Giffey's career night lifted UConn past Memphis
MEMPHIS - Playing in its first postseason game since March 12, 2012, the UConn men's basketball team showed little rust on the big stage and topped the tournament host Memphis, 72-53, Thursday night at the FedExForum in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals.
The Huskies will play the No. 1 seed Cincinnati in the semifinals on Friday at 9 p.m. EST.
Giffey's career night paces UConn offense
After being held to just one point in the last game against Louisville, senior forward Niels Giffey set a new career-high with 24 points Thursday night to go along with personal-bests of six 3-pointers and nine rebounds.
"This game was similar to the Louisville game coming into it," Giffey said. "They had the home crowd and we knew we had to give them a different game than the Louisville game. So we came in with a good mindset, really energetic and we had to stick to certain points that we were emphasizing, and that was rebounding and getting back in tradition. I think we did a great job just staying solid."
Giffey averaged eight points per game during the regular season and shot 50 percent from the three point line. For him to be open so frequently and go 6-for-8 from beyond the arc surprised the UConn senior guard, Shabazz Napier.
"[Giffey] has been the greatest shooter we've had this whole year," Napier said. "And if you leave him open, which is astonishing, coming into this, a lot of people in the country know Niels Giffey as a shooter. But the way they play defense, they double a lot and leave shooters open and we're not afraid to pass the ball at all so Niels got the shots and knocked them down and kept it rolling."
The Huskies combined to shoot 52.9 percent from the field and snapped out of their recent offensive slump in which they combined for just 37.5 percent shoot from the field in their last six games.
DeAndre Daniels added 13 points while Napier and Ryan Boatright chipped in 11 points each to help UConn topped the 70-point mark for the first since its 86-81 overtime win over Memphis on Feb. 15 at the XL Center.
Memphis offense held to season-low by UConn
Although the Huskies' offense clicked Thursday night, it didn't for the Tigers, as UConn held Memphis to a season-low 26.4 percent shooting from the field.
"We missed a lot of layups. We missed a lot of shots," Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "We shot 26 percent from the field. We're not winning. It's over. You just start the bus and go home because you are not winning when you shoot 26 percent against a good team."
The 53 points Memphis scored also tied for its season-low. The Tigers were held to the same mark on Jan. 4 in a 69-53 loss to Cincinnati.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie said his team's defense was phenomenal.
"From the tap, we didn't give them anything easy," Ollie said, "and the biggest key that we had on the board was transition defense. We held them to eight transition points. Whey they played at the XL Center - our last game - they got 20."
UConn also racked up seven steals and eight blocks as a team, with Giffey, DeAndre Daniels and Amida Brimah each swatting two shots.
"Memphis is a great inside team, they really score in the paint," Giffey said. "So we really focused on clogging up the paint and helping guys out as soon as the ball came in, and make them make shots from outside. That was one of the keys that we talked about."
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